“Cats are just as good as dogs at learning — they’re just not as keen to show their owners what they’ve learnt,” says John Bradshaw, a biologist at the University of Bristol, UK, who specializes in human–animal interactions.
The study took advantage of a technique known as ‘habituation–dishabituation’, commonly used in animal-behaviour studies. Atsuko Saito, a cognitive biologist at the University of Tokyo, and her colleagues visited 11 households with pet cats (Felis catus) and asked the owner to read a list of four nouns to their pet. These words were of the same length and rhythm as the cat’s name.
Universities determine the future: they shape it through their research and prepare students for tomorrow’s jobs. But in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s hard to know what the future will look like. Technological changes such as automation and artificial intelligence are expected to transform the employment landscape. The question is: will our education system keep up?
The answer matters because an estimated 65% of children entering primary schools today will work in jobs and functions that don’t currently exist, according to a recent Universities UK report. The research, which explores the “rapid pace of change and increasing complexity of work”, also warns that the UK isn’t even creating the workers that will be needed for the jobs that can be anticipated. By 2030, it will have a talent deficit of between 600,000 and 1.2 million workers in the financial and business sector, and technology, media and telecommunications sector.
University leaders would be “foolish” not to pay attention, says Lancaster University vice-chancellor Mark E Smith. “We look at the trends in the job market and the skills employers are looking for, and we listen to what employers are saying. We don’t want to be talking about yesterday’s problem.”